16 Jan 2012
Wine often comes across as stuffy and snobby. Wine, however, is an alcoholic beverage and has a humorous side as well. The following funny wine quotes always make me laugh and I hope they bring a smile to your face as well. Many of these were found on friends Facebook pages and Twitter streams. Enjoy, pin away and share. Enjoy life with friends, drink happy.
Another reason why I prefer PCs over MACs – they just seem to understand me.
Classic quote. I’ve seen this at several friends houses.
Men are like fine wine. They all start out like grapes and it’s our job to stomp on them, keep them in the dark, until they mature into something you’d like to have dinner with.
No one likes a quitter. Drink up!
So that is why the the Christmas tree always dries up before Christmas.
Do the right thing…make the call…don’t be that guy.
27 Dec 2011
After seeing the popularity of my last blog, I took notice that people enjoy a good, honest rant. Upon returning from a wine tasting trip with a sour taste in my mouth compliments of piss poor customer service, the words came out rather easily. I find myself today with a similar height of frustration, but from the other side of the counter. As an employee in multiple tasting rooms, I’ve seen my fair share of pretentious people walk through my doors and clearly state their hard-wired preferences right off that bat. Why go into any new situation with an already-made list of things you wont try or test out. Last time I checked, life was for living. If not, someone please forward me the memo stating otherwise. Specifically, I’d like to address the people who claim to only drink “big reds” and refuse a glass of anything white or pink. Oh I get it, your manhood is bigger than mine because of this preference? Am I right? Well, lets dive deeper into why this is NOT the case.
In my ever-lasting goal to bring everyone together, I’ve come up with four kinds of people in regards to wine:
- Men and women who don’t drink wine at all. They either tried it a few times and never got into the damn thing or choose not to drink at all for various reasons.
- Men and women who have eagerly taken the first steps to liking wine and still stick to whites, often times leaning towards the sweeter side of life. They aren’t opposed to red wines necessarily, but simply haven’t traveled that far in their journey to full wine appreciation. Drink on!
- The unfortunate souls…err….men and women who have taken the step into bigger red wines, yet leave white and/or sweeter wines in the dust viewing them as a person they regret ever dating. These people view drinkers of “anything but red” as uneducated, unsophisticated, and as ignorant as they come.
- Finally! These highly-intelligent, ridiculously-cultured, and scaringly-sexy people that have come full circle and completely understand that all (yes ALL) wine has its place in our hearts, and finding those places are half the fun!
Three of these four categories are completely fine. Group number 3 and their views, however, have created such a heavy presence that many adults are effin’ scared to admit they like enjoy a sweet wine every once in awhile. Why should they be ashamed? As I stated earlier, red, white, and pink can all find a fitting way into our lives. For a couple of examples, sweet wines are a great offset to spicy foods such as Thai and Spanish cuisine. Whites with great acidity (eg Sauvignon Blanc and many dry Rieslings) can compliment a wide range a meals and have the backbone to cut through a lot of heavy, cream based sauces. Dry rose’s are great palate cleansers that seem to pair with any food you can put on a holiday menu. Lastly, on a dripping hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a light, refreshing Pinot Gris on the porch. When were whites seeing as wines for pansies and neanderthals? Personally, I feel whites hold more characteristics to the original grape flavors and have just as much depth as any red you could put in front of me. Disagree? I dare you to send me a red so great, so amazing that it will force me to forget all about whites. If you can, strive to become a number 4 because its truly the right way to live. I try and act cool, but when I’m in the privacy of my own home, I’ll be the first to admit that I turn on Jersey Shore on occasion. Although I should be embarrassed about this, no one should feel insecure when walking up to the bar and ordering a dry white, sweet white or rose. I can speak for most tasting room employees and proclaim our annoyance with the 3rd group. Get over yourselves. Stop buying big trucks. Drink what you REALLY want to drink. For most of you, it’s all an act act anyway. Just be yourselves! What’s your favorite white wine and why?
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape and travels the country with @weshotthemoon. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker. Follow Ben on Twitter @benhilzinger
09 Dec 2011
Wine often mystifies and is seldom the same. Vintage variation, winemaker whimsy, and laborious labels can make choosing something you LOVE like dropping a quarter in the state of Texas and sending you out blindfolded to find it. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “What is your favorite wine?” I would actually be writing this post from the beaches of Aruba or some exotic place. To help answer the question, I’ve identified the 5 best wines you will ever have. I’m sure you’ll agree!
Your First Wine
While you may not have understood all the intricacies of the taste or it might have been a wine of substandard quality, your first wine will always hold a special place in your heart…and palate. Your first time will always be remembered because it started your life long affair with the fermented grape. Even though you fumbled your way through the swirl, sniff, sip and the experience was over far too quickly, it created a spark that now burns as a raging unquenchable desire.
My first wine (or at least the one I remember) was a 2002 Meridian Merlot purchased just before a first date. Interestingly enough it is this wine that birthed this blog, Nectar Tasting Room, Spokane Wine Magazine, and for that matter just about everything I’m doing right now. The wine…unassuming and unmemorable, but the results have been life changing.
The Celebratory Wine
A wedding, the birth of a child, a job promotion, days when the sun comes up; each of these is deserving of a celebration. Many of these celebrations involve wine. Celebratory wine is some of the best wine you’ll ever have. Your brain creates a powerful positive trigger connecting the wine with the emotions from the event. An average wine can taste good and a great wine can become life changing.
Many of us choose sparkling wine for these celebrations. Two sparkling wines that hold special memory for me are from Spokane’s Mountain Dome (Cuvee Forte), and the Northwest Cellars 2001 Brut that I recently opened during the release party of Spokane Wine Magazine.
The Vacation Wine
Oh, the vacation wine, often known as the wine tasting trip wine – for some reason this wine always tastes 2-3 times better in the tasting room than when you get home and taste it. I would offer that it is the sights, sounds, smells, and overall experience that make the wine enjoyable. While the wine may be really good when you get home, the memory of the time at the winery (or even at the dinner table that night), makes the wine taste better. Some of my favorite wines are from wine trips to Yakima, Woodinville, Walla Walla, and Lake Chelan. BEWARE: There will be times you spend your good money on a wine as you are immersed in the experience that will result in disappointment when popping the cork to enjoy with your frozen dinner.
The Wine in Your Glass
I often answer the question, “What is your favorite wine,” with the answer, “the one in my glass.” While this is a humorous response, it actually holds quite a bit of truth to it. The reason…variety. No two wines are the same. Wine is an artistic and creative product and enjoying it provides a unique experience. Rarely do I buy the same wine twice. While there are many wines that I fall in love with (and I’ll go to these for events, gifts, dinners, dates, etc), I love discovering something new. As a wine writer, I am blessed to get samples from wineries all over the world. I love experiencing Assyrtiko from Greece or Gruner Veltliner from Austria or a bold Napa Cabernet from an artisan producer. I encourage everyone to do this. Find your favorites but enjoy the wine that is in your glass. That wine has its own unique characteristics and qualities, discover them.
The Wine Enjoyed with Friends
The best wine, in my opinion, is the wine enjoyed with friends. Long before there was a ‘brick and mortar’ Nectar Tasting Room, I envisioned groups of people sharing a bottle of wine, laughing and creating memories. My tag line for all my video blogs has always been, “Enjoy life with friends…drink happy.” This actually graces our windows at Nectar. Wine is a social beverage, and a social lubricant, and is tied to so many amazing memories with people you love and enjoy.
While writers and pundits, and even this blog from time to time, rate and score the quality of a wine, the ultimate test and character of a wine is…do you like it? Enjoy the art. Celebrate the variety. Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
*Photo credit Retro Classics Photography / Crystal Toreson
15 Jun 2011
Look at the back label of most American-made wines and you’ll most certainly see the phrase *CONTAINS SULFITES*. Oh no! Not sulfites! Why, out of all the compounds found in wine, does this little punk get his own shout-out on the bottle? Well, some people see red wine as an open door to a morning full of horrendous headaches and directly blame sulfites. Seeing the “warning label” only fortifies this belief. It seems odd, though, that these same people can drink sweet white wines (which scientists have declared often times contain more sulfites than red wine) without missing a beat the next day? It’s because although sulfites certainly affect a select few, they don’t affect most. Back in the 1980’s, the FDA did a study and found that “one in 100 people is sulfite sensitive to a degree, but for the 10% of the population who are asthmatic, only 5% of that group are at risk of having an adverse reaction to the substance.” (Sorry for the numbers, I know my readership goes down when I have too many numbers!) Long story short, sulfites are not the bad guy and the 1% that are affected don’t even list headaches as a symptom.
But Mr. Ben, why are sulfites added to wine at all? Let me preface this with a story. A few weeks back, some friends of mine in a wine production facility gave me a bottle of organic, NO ADDED SULFITE white wine called Siegerrebe. They did this not out of pure kindness, but because they couldn’t stand the stuff and wanted it out of their sight! I have a fairly decent cellar and many wines to choose from while I started to write this blog, but considering my subject, I popped open the “gift” that claims to possess fewer sulfites. Needless to say, I took two sips, poured the bottle down the drain and am now sipping on some robust Malbec to rid me of the awful taste.
Sulfites occur naturally in all wines regardless, but, continuing a tradition since the 17th century, are still often added to cease fermentation to the winemaker’s liking. As a bonus, they can also act as a preservative to prevent spoilage and hindering the introduction of oxygen to the juice while being transferred from a holding tank to the bottle. Bottle Shock, however, is often a side effect when adding SO2 to wine during bottling, but often dissipates with time (the longest being a few months). All in all, I wish I had an answer to the age-old question of “why does red wine give me a headache?”, but even science still can’t explain this phenomenon. Is it the tannins? Histamines (I’ve heard taking Sudafed helps)? A separate unknown naturally-occurring compound created during fermentation? Who knows, but sulfites are essential to the flavor and life of the wines you love so let the myth die!
For more information on Sulfite Sensitivity, check out these websites:
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at the Arbor Crest Winery. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape as a drummer for a local band. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker.
A year ago Spokane residents learned that the Washington Wine Commission canceled the popular long running event, Taste Washington. Many Spokanites felt that the wine commission turned their backs on our city. Conversation of east versus west and second city sprung up at wineries and wine bars around Spokane.
Enter Varsity Communications to save the day! Varsity Communications is the brains behind Taste Washington (Seattle, Portland and formerly Spokane). If anyone is familiar with hosting a grand tasting, Dick Stephens and his team are.
Sunday, June 5 the culmination of their efforts shone the spotlight on why Spokane is a perfect host city. With 60 wineries and dozens of food vendors, The Lincoln Center played host to the first annual Vintage Spokane. With each sip the memory of Taste Washington became more and more faint. Over 400 people plus volunteers, vendors, and wineries enjoyed the wines of Washington and Idaho perfectly paired with culinary creation.
Where Were The Spokane Wineries?
As a local business owner, I have to play the political balancing game but as I talked to several people leading up to and during the event, one question kept coming up, “Where are the Spokane wineries.” With 19 wineries producing wine in town, one would expect at least a 50% participation rate. As I walked around, I was happy to see Robert Karl, Arbor Crest and Knipprath Cellars proudly representing Spokane. I realize that Vintage Spokane got a late start in recruiting and several local events may be tying up the resources of local vintners, but the opportunity to show support and engage customers was missed. As I watched the hundreds of people enjoying wine and food, I couldn’t help but look forward to next year seeing 10-15 of our local quality wineries representing.
While I was there to work (a little), I had a goal to visit some new wineries and revisit some new releases from old friends. Below are some of the stand outs:
- Bergevin Lane She-Devil Syrah
- Cougar Crest Dedication
- Alexandria Nicole Shepherd’s Mark
- Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot
- Rotie Cellars Southern Syrah
- Kiona Winery Lemberger
The culinary delights were incredible as well. Cheese from local Saunders Market was a favorite as well as amazing presentation from Muckleshoot Casino (smoked salmon and marshmallow), and Kennewick’s Chef Frank Magana from Picazo 717 Restaurant (Gorgonzola stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped prawns and Dungeness crab chipotle mac n’ cheese).
If the 2011 Vintage Spokane event is any indication, Varsity Communications may need to look for a larger venue for the 2012 event. Spokane is a wine loving community and showed voracious support for the vintage vino.
See their Facebook page for pictures from the event